Chapter 144 Always Thinking of Him
I gave him an apologetic smile. “Sorry, Uncle Frank. Dominic won’t be drinking. I’ll get him some juice later.
The last time, he had drunk himself into a stupor and ended up in a hospital. I would really rather not have him repeat that experience again.
Uncle Frank frowned. “I don’t blame you for not knowing your liquor, Lili, but this whiskey here is the good stuff. I specially bought it for this occasion. And you know it’s a family tradition for us men to toast each other at the family gathering.”
I tried to let Uncle Frank down easy. “I’m so sorry, but he really—”
Grandfather harrumphed loudly. “Lili, don’t coddle him. If he wants to drink, drink. If he doesn’t want to, he should say it himself rather than hiding behind his girlfriend.”
“Grandpa…” I pouted.
Dominic’s hand covered mine, taking it off the glass. “I’m fine.” He gave me a reassuring squeeze before addressing Uncle Frank. “I’ll have a glass, thank you.”
“Now we’re talking.” Pleased, the latter filled more than half the glass. “There you go.”
When Uncle Frank moved on to his next target, I elbowed Dominic in his ribs. “Did you forget about what happened the last time?” I hissed in annoyance. “We’re in the countryside. It’s a long way to a hospital if you get alcohol poisoning again.”
Although we did have the local doctor, a proper hospital would be quite out of the way.
Dominic’s expression was calm. “I know what I’m doing.”
As if! Internally, I was throwing my hands up in chagrin. If that were true, you wouldn’t have been hospitalized in the first place, nor would Benjamin and Yvonne tell me you’d nearly drunk yourself into an early grave.
Unable to resist, I pinched his leg under the table. “Just this one glass, okay?” I said warningly. “No seconds.”
He smirked. “Are you henpecking me?”
“So what if I am?” I glared at him, peeved by his devil-may-care attitude when his health was at stake. “No seconds, and that’s final.”
Aunt Gianna looked at us teasingly. “What sweet nothings are you two whispering? Keep your pillow talk to another time, okay?”
I flushed. In retrospect, Dominic and I did act like quite a couple just now.
“All right, enough talking, more eating,” Grandfather said. “Everyone dig in.”
Plates of food were passed around and the clinking of glasses filled the room. There was one thing Uncle Frank was right about—it was in fact a tradition in this household for the men to drink and make toasts during a family gathering.
Grandfather was a bibulous person. Back in the day, when his health was better, he used to have a drink at every meal.
My dad, on the other hand, was a social drinker and only imbibed alcohol when Grandfather was around.
After Grandfather had a heart bypass surgery some time ago, the doctor had told him to cut back on liquor, much to his disgruntlement.
This was how the tradition was born—Grandfather was allowed to indulge in his drinks during special occasions where our family gathered and the men would drink to his health.
That being said, the copious amount of alcohol Grandfather was currently imbibing had me frown in concern. It’s true that it’s a special occasion, and he could cut loose a little… But he has already downed three glasses!
“Grandpa, you’ve had enough for today! Drink something non-alcoholic, okay?” I passed him a glass of juice and raised my own by way of toasting. “Cheers to your good health, Grandpa!”
Grandfather laughed in delight. “Thanks, Lili. Okay, okay. I promise I’ll stop after your boyfriend over there downed a drink with me.”
He looked at Dominic as if daring him to do otherwise.
“Grandpa,” I said pleadingly. “Dominic’s not good with alcohol. He was hospitalized one time because he couldn’t take too much.”
I had intended for Grandfather to cut Dominic some slack, but I forgot that in the eyes of someone like my grandfather, who used to guzzle booze as freely as he breathed, being “not good with alcohol” was effectively a demonstration of one’s inferiority.
True enough, while Grandfather no longer insisted for Dominic to drink, he had instead found something else to pick on the latter—more specifically, that he had too weak a stomach and ought to exercise more to develop a higher alcohol tolerance.
Oh, well. I tried my best. Shaking my head in amused exasperation, I watched Dominic nod amicably in response to Grandfather’s chiding before promising that he would exercise to be stronger so he could “take better care of Lian.”
As he said the last part, he looked at me with a raised brow loaded with meaning.
I stared back at him uncomprehendingly for a second before the realization that it was an innuendo dawned. I turned away, cheeks burning. He’d better not put in any more hours in the gym! If his stamina becomes any better in bed, I’d probably die of exhaustion.
The rest of the family took my persistent attempt to stop Dominic from drinking as a sign of how much I cared about him. Aunt Vivienne, in particular, joked that I was always thinking of him, so much so I probably forgot my own name.
The others laughed good-naturedly while I feigned annoyance.
The pleasant atmosphere lasted for the rest of the dinner.
Shortly after dinner, Grandfather retired to his room, but not before telling Dominic very sternly that the latter must sleep alone in a separate room.
Dominic had displayed the utmost patience with Grandfather throughout the day, agreeing to whatever he said with a serene smile or nod. Upon hearing that he and I were to sleep in separate rooms, however, there was an almost imperceptible downward turn of his mouth.
I almost laughed out loud as he struggled to rein in his reluctance. Good job, Grandpa!
The night was still early for a night owl like me. Unfortunately, being in the countryside meant there were limited entertainment options. Having nothing else to do, I pulled Dominic out of the house and into the front porch to do some stargazing.
The night was clear. Free from light pollution, the dark canopy above us was covered by thousands of twinkling lights.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I breathed. “The city life is great, but sometimes it just lacks this kind of simplistic beauty, don’t you think?”
“You and your melodrama.”
I elbowed him. “You’re just saying that because you don’t know how to appreciate such beauty.”
He fell silent. It was moments later when he spoke again. “I’ve taken you to see the stars before, but I don’t remember you being so appreciative of the sight.”
Before? I searched my memory and finally found the answer. We had gone traveling once, back when we were still together, and he had taken me to a spot perfect for stargazing. Oh… I think this is the first time since we reconnected that he has brought up our shared past.
He was right, too, in saying that I had not been as appreciative of the starry sky as I was now. How could I have been, when all I had eyes for under the curtain of starlights was him?
“Dom, do you mind coming over here for a minute?” my mom called from inside the house. “I want to show you your bedroom.”
Dominic replied in the affirmative and went indoors.
Not long after he was gone, I heard the ringtone of his cell phone, which he had left on the chair next to me.
Taking the phone, I was about to deliver it to him when my fingers accidentally pressed the pickup button on the screen. Oops…
It was an unknown number. Thinking that it might now be too rude to hang up without a word, I placed the phone to my ear and greeted the caller.